In short, the answer is no, there is not an ideal blog post word count. But there is an ideal number of questions you need to ask yourself before you write.
That magic number is 15. [Give or take a question or two, of course.] [Read more…]
Essential web writing + content marketing advice
Even in a beautiful language like French, “no” still hurts.
But objections are a simple fact of the business life. They’re like octopus tentacles — everyone has at least eight of them.
Of course this is perfectly natural. Most potential customers are primed NOT to spend money and stiff-arm sales copy.
And the reasons why they may object are just as numerous: [Read more…]
Online readers are a surly bunch.
I mean that in the best possible way, mind you. And, naturally, I lump myself into that group.
See, when it comes to reading online, everyone is mean, lazy, and stupid. Makes you wonder if there’s something wrong with anyone who chooses a career as web writer.
The origin behind that harsh designation, though, is interesting. It’s how New York University philosophy professor Jim Pryor suggests his students view their readers.
Which is what my podcast, Rough Draft, is all about. In just a few minutes a day I deliver essential writing advice you need to succeed online, four days a week.
But unlike most business podcasts (where interviews rule the roost) Rough Draft is a monologue.
It’s just you, me, and 15 years of experience working with top brands like KISSmetrics, Salesforce, Hubspot, and, of course, Copyblogger (where I am Chief Content Writer).
Tomfoolery included. [Read more…]
How do people find things on the web? Search engines.
Google, as you probably know, is the dominate search name. There’s also this thing called Bing. Then smaller boutique search engines that specialize in narrow fields. Academic, medical.
The job of a search engine like Google is to find content that matches your query (the question you are asking):
I want you to imagine a statue. An aged bronze sculpture of a young girl, possibly eight years old, in a long dress. She stands about 50 inches, so roughly four feet tall.
Her head is cocked to the left, a pensive, sad look on her face. Both elbows are pinned to her side and her forearms stretch upward, her palms open to the sky, a bowl in each hand.
As if she is feeding the birds. [Read more…]
Another way to get people to buy into your claim is to explain the mechanism behind it.
For example, let’s say a fitness trainer makes the claim that in just 14 minutes a day customers can add muscle to every inch of their body.
Notice what is NOT suggested: that these will be particularly big muscles. The implication is, at the very least, customers can achieve a toned body.
That’s still a big claim, but the trainer can bring it into the realm of believability by explaining how this can happen.
In this case, let’s say the fitness program involves a chair. The value proposition can be summed up like this: a 14-minute chair routine that builds muscle on every inch of your body.
Notice, too, the trainer used several of the previous tips to accomplish this.
One, the claim is very specific about the amount of time it takes and the equipment necessary. In other words, it’s heavy with details.
In addition, as part of the live presentation the trainer could demonstrate with a video. All of these factors help sweep aside skepticism.
Finally, he could add a creative guarantee, and his close rates are sure to go up.
This article originally appeared as part of this Salesforce article (which I am told by a source close to the company is their most socially popular post).
P.S. Want a daily, but small, dose of essential web writing advice? Then check out my new podcast Rough Draft.
Our anticipation and response to fame should mirror the anticipation and response of the ancient acolyte to a visitation from the gods.
During the new moon the acolyte enters the temple, dons the vest, lights the incense, and prepares the sacrifice. In that prescribed order. There is nothing more he can do.
And then he waits.
With each piece of content the writer performs a similar ritual. She crafts the headline, neatly lays out one sentence at a time, shapes short paragraphs, selects the appropriate image, closes with style, and publishes it. That’s all she can do.
Then she must wait.
When the gods arrive the acolyte falls flat on his face, overwhelmed by a sense of fear, respect, and awe. He can not control whether they arrive or not. He is at their mercy.
When the audience arrives the writer falls flat on her face, overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude and obligation. She can not control whether they arrive or not. She is at their mercy. And grateful for any attention at all.
And that is the proper response to fame. Do you agree? Drop a comment.
P.S. Have you seen my new podcast Rough Draft?
Do you want a simple, sticky formula that turns your listless copy into something that rivets attention, stokes desire, and gets action?
If you said “yes,” then the 4 Ps is what you are after. Let’s start with an example.
Wanted: Ugly Men
Listen, ugly men, with one little pill, I can make you so attractive that women will throw themselves at you every time you walk through the mall.
Just ask Marty Feldman or Michael Berryman. They now beat women off of them with sticks.
Call 1-800-ugly-men now if you are interested.
See any pattern in the above copy? I’m using the Ps. So, what are the 4 Ps?
Let’s break this little ad down so I can show you how this formula works. [Read more…]